Make Vietnamese-Style Coffee and Chicory Using a French Press

2015-01-11 Updated
2010-04-17 Initial Post

Note: 1 US cup = 8 US fluid ounces.

Requirements

    1. Bodum Chambord 8-cup french press coffee maker (Or any decent brand of similar type and size. The glass on this one broke in June 2010 so I bought the 34 oz IKEA FORSTA which was much cheaper at $12.99 and is holding up so far. One issue was that the metal holder was really tight so I had to loosen it up using some pliers).

    1. 8 heaping tablespoons of Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chicory blend.

  1. 4 heaping tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (Any name brand should do—don’t use the “filled” kind since that has oil and other junk added. Nestle or Borden brands are good. Target actually has its own Market Pantry brand which is cheap but seems to be made by Nestle because the stamping on the can, and the ingredients and nutrition facts are exactly the same as Nestle's. Target also has the Borden brand at a really good price and the can has an easy open top so it's less messy to open.)
  2. Tea kettle with at least 4 US cups of water.
  3. Four 16-ounce mugs.
  4. Stove.
  5. A non-metal kitchen utensil (wooden spoon or plastic chopstick).

Instructions

  1. Start boiling the water.
  2. In each mug, put in one heaping tablespoon of condensed milk.
  3. Put 8 heaping tablespoons of the coffee blend into the french press container (this equals 2 tablespoons per mug). Level out the coffee by gently tapping the sides.
  4. After the water comes to a boil, let it sit until it stops boiling. I set the kitchen timer for 7 minutes to remind me.
  5. Slowly pour the water into the french press container, filling it ¼ of the way.
  6. Using a non-metal kitchen utensil, stir the water and coffee mixture well.
  7. Slowly pour more water into the french press container, pausing and stirring the coffee mixture well, until the water comes to within 1/2 inch of the spout. If you fill it too much, it will overflow when you put the lid on.
  8. Gently put the lid on the french press, but don't press down on the plunger yet. Turn the lid so that the black plastic lid filter is away from the spout. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 15 minutes. I set the kitchen timer for at least 10 minutes to remind me.
  9. Gently push the plunger down until it can’t go down any further.
  10. Turn the lid so that the black plastic lid filter is against the spout and pour coffee into each mug, in even amounts.
  11. Use a spoon to mix the coffee and condensed milk together.
  12. Enjoy hot, over ice, or let everything cool down and refrigerate for later consumption. I normally let all 4 mugs cool down and put a cover over them and then refrigerate them so my wife and I can enjoy them in the morning.
  13. Next time adjust amounts of coffee blend and condensed milk if the above proportions didn't suite your taste.

Additional Notes:

  • If you want to make more than 4 mugs, then add 2 tablespoons of the coffee blend for each additional mug. You'll need to add extra water into each mug to dilute it since the coffee will be much more concentrated. I've made up to 6 mugs at once using 12 tablespoons of coffee blend.
  • If you live near an Asian food market (usually Chinese/Vietnamese), they might carry the Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chicory blend for much cheaper than other markets such as Whole Foods. I have not seen any other blend other than that at the the Asian food markets.
  • I e-mailed Cafe Du Monde on 07/01/2009 to ask about the percentage of chicory in this blend and their reply was that it's "1 parts chicory to 4 parts coffee" which means it's 20% chicory and 80% coffee.
  • I went to New Orleans in April 2010 and picked up a can of Cafe Du Monde French Roast Coffee (this is in the blue can). I've wanted to try this but couldn't find it locally, and shipping was too expensive, so I had it on my list to get when I was in NO. I got it directly from the company store. After I got home I used it in the same proportions as the coffee and chicory blend and noticed a few things about it:
  1. It's much lighter in color once it's mixed with the condensed milk.
  2. It's not as smokey/bitter since it doesn't have chicory.
  3. It doesn't clump together at the bottom, making it easier to stir in with the water.
  4. I like this blend better, but not enough to pay more to order it. My wife didn't think it was better than the chicory blend.

2011-02-18

I didn't get a chance to update this post earlier. The IKEA french press ended up breaking as well. So that's the second glass french press that I've broken within a year. Since I tried two different brands and they both broke easily, I gave up and am back to using the regular Vietnamese style, metal, single cup coffee filter/dripper like the one below from Amazon.

Using this type of filter, for each mug, I use two rounded tablespoons of Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chicory blend and one heaping tablespoon of condensed milk. I fill up the filter with hot water and after it drips through, I fill it up one more time. That is good for pouring over ice since the ice will melt and not water-down the coffee too much. If you plan to drink the coffee hot, fill up the filter with water for a third time.

The one major thing I don't like about these filters is that they take a long time--over 20 minutes to make a cup of coffee. I've bought a few different styles and some drip quicker than others and some are better made than others. I recently ordered three different types of filters from other places and I have yet to find one that I really like. So at this point, I'll have to wait until I go to some place like Houston, TX or Orange County, CA where there are a lot of Viet stores that should have a good selection of filters that I can see in person.

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